French Impressionism at the National Gallery in Prague
The National Gallery in Prague hosts an unprecedented show of Impressionist paintings from a Danish private collection. After long years of isolationism of the Prague National Gallery, the exhibition seems to be for a art-lover from Prague a real miracle.
The show includes paintings from well-known French artists since the beginning of the 19th century until the epoque of post-impressionism.
In the beginning, the visitor sees paintings by Ingres and Couture with historical subjects such as Dante or Death of Seneca. The show continues with beautiful landscapes by Camille Corot. There is also a beautiful nude of a young Italian woman by Corot included in the show. The formats of the paintings are rather intimate, which creates an atmosphere of personal relationship in the interiors of the beautiful Prague rococo Palais Kinsky on the Old Town square. There are beautiful seascapes by Daubigny in the next room. Personally, I appreciated a lot the painting of deer-does in a winter forest, running on snow. A very elegant and beautiful masterwork. Two paintings by the excellent caricaturist Honoré Daumier are included in the show. An art lover from Prague appreciates a lot the presence of this artworks in the exhibition, because small size prints by Daumier with inscriptions from Parisian theatre shows are very popular.
IThe part of the exhibition, consecrated to the members of the Impressionist group, is the real hearth of the show. The visitor can admire landscape paintings by Claude Monet. The painting of the Way from Chailly to the Fontainebleau forest associated in me actually a place in the Prague park „Hvezda“, which is very beautiful with its hundred years old trees. The seascapes by Monet are works of a genius in its simplicity. When we look at them, we understand the groundbreaking originality of his artistic inventions. Not to be seen in Prague very often, unfortunately. There are marvellous paintings by Sisley, which represent boats in harbours. Especially the painting from the year 1885 caught my attention, with the red ship moving illusory by this warm colour tone from the green waters and blue sky toward the viewer. The paintings by Pissarro, representing spring and summer gardens in blossom surely count to the most attractive impressionist masterworks. The paintings representing buildings in Paris and the life of the Parisian streets from a bird perspective represent for me compositions, which are modernist. The cutting of the edge of the view is the beginning of the decomposition of the paintings, which will later end in the Cubist style. There are also some paintings by American Impressionists included in the show. The most beautiful is by Berthe Morisot (The Portrait of Marie Hubbard). Two representative paintings by Degas complete the overview of the famous French Impressionist group. Art critiques appreciate a lot the small still-lifes by Manet. There is a wonderful example with the „Basket of pears“ to be admired in Prague.
IThe great finale of the show are paintings by Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. The Bathing women by Cézanne are a pivotal masterpiece of the show. When we look at it, we realize the great and original development the French art went through in the 19th century and how it opened the way to Modern art. A nice surprise in the very end of the exhibition is a dreamy still-life by Odilon Redon.
Autor / zdroj: Mgr. David Bareš, teoretik umění, foto: Národní galerie v Praze
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